DUTCH DESERT ‘VIPERS’

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 pilots train in the heat of Arizona – thousands of miles from their European bases. Dr Kevin Wright spoke to Lt Col Joost ‘Niki’ Luysterburg, commanding officer of the 148th Fighter Squadron, about the demanding ninemonth syllabus among its range of courses.

Basic fighter manoeuvring training begins with one against one engagements.
All photos Dr Kevin Wright unless stated
A celebratory hose down to mark Lt Col Joost ‘Niki’ Luysterburg reaching 4,000 flying hours on the F-16 in April.
148th FS

Arizona’s mountainous and largely desert geography could not be more different from the low-lying, coastal and green landscape of the Netherlands. Yet, it is above the austere terrain of the southwestern US that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht/KLu trains its F-16 Fighting Falcon (‘Viper’) pilots.

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